Re: [ticket2write] Black Box
- Good premise for a story, lots of promise. My crits are in (). Mostly you
need to watch the POV and how natural are Tim's thoughts....they slipped
into author view a couple times.
Nice job, my kind of story.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Patrick Cristopher" <jaezus@...>
Sent: Wednesday, July 30, 2003 10:36 PM
Subject: [ticket2write] Black Box
Hi all. Here's a short short from the suspense/drama genre. Hope to
get a lot of feedback about your reaction to the story. Please
critique openly and honestly. Thanks.
THE BLACK BOX
The package was there again, even though he'd kicked it
across the asphalt just at the moment Old Man Crawley backed his '56
wagon down the drive; kicked it so hard the small square object
caught the full brunt of his Nike boot. Mr. Crawley was as senile a
bastard as he was old, and Timmy had counted on him coming down the
drive as carelessly as if he were riding a roller coaster. He
wouldn't see the thing dart into the Ford's path until it was too
late, the same way he'd run over the next-door neighbor's cat.
The black box skidded past the first tire of the outdated
jalopy. For one horrible second Timmy's gray eyes grew wide as the
mysterious object wobbled between the two large rubber spheres.
Would it stop? No. It couldn't. It had to keep sliding just a
couple more inches, just-
The impact was full force, the sound deafening. Like that of
a brittle bone snapping in half, it tore into Timmy's senses, so
loudly he felt as if his ears were bleeding. The vehicle jerked to a
halt. Splinters of wood popped from beneath the car, shooting across
the pebbled road as if blasted out of a cannon.
Dead. Gone. Destroyed. Yes yes yes yes yes!
That was yesterday, when celebrating seemed in order.
Jumping up and down, screaming the words "I won, I won," incessantly
felt so good, so appropriate after such a grueling fight with the .
Now-surprise!-here it was today, so black and square, tied in
the same blood red ribbon that had adorned it when he first
encountered the object a week past in the antique shop on Mill Road.
No. Not a surprise at all.
I lost you that night, he thought fearfully. (this seems weak,
perhaps lose the dialog tag? A better writer could tell you if that would
be appropriate) His body shook
while he stared at the package on his doorstep, focused on the crisp
card that stuck out from its side, like a peace offering.
There was nothing peaceful about this evil thing. It was
here once more (replace "once more" with "again"? ..sounds more natural to
the character), despite the terrifying fact that he'd lost it that (replace
"that" with "the")
first night he'd purchased the odd box, dropped it in the river off
of Pond Bridge accidentally. On the day of his girlfriend's
birthday, no less! It was Missy's sixteenth; he'd planned to give
the box to her as a gift, a jewelry chest to store the inscribed
golden necklace he's spent nearly all his meager earnings from his
after school work salary buying. He had seen it in the window of an
antique shop that doubled as an art for thrift store; it had seemed
to call his name, so shiny and mesmerizing was it.
Timmy had dropped it while leaning over the guardrail.(Did we just change
POV from first person to third?....we were in Timmy's head, but now he is
speaking of himself by name?) He'd
been admiring the glossy sheen of the old, painted oak box, just a
little smaller than his palm, and he'd nervously tipped it from his
outstretched hand when he imagined he had felt a tremor originate
from the box and shoot up his arm, as if it had suddenly come alive.
He thought he'd never see it again, not after watching the cold,
vicious current drag it away in the water's swirling embrace,
submerging the box, drowning it the foamy darkness of the river.
Never to emerge, he had thought.
"Why didn't you drown?" Timmy demanded hysterically, his
voice shrill. "Why won't you die?"
Timmy plucked the package up from his doorstep and hurled it
against the brick wall of the garage. It collided against the
immovable concrete loudly (omit "loudly" and remove the next phrase OUT of
parens...collided against the immovable concrete with a smack that sounded
like the sound of a wooden bat.....) (the sound like that of a wooden bat
smacking a hardball), and then tumbled back to Timmy. It stopped
tauntingly at his feet, unharmed, not even a scratch on its dark
"Please," Timmy whined, "I don't want to play!" (how old is Timmy?
perhaps allude to the fact that he is feeling like a little kid ...or
describe how the fear felt inside....otherwise, the whine might be taken as
The box cackled. The evil inside battered Timmy's eardrums with
merciless, malicious laughter. Mad hyenas. The sound of mad hyenas!
Taunting him, devouring him, stealing his precious sanity! (Sentence
fragments that are telling, not showing....lose one of the exclamation marks
and say what he is really thinking...perhaps it isn't actual words, but
envisioning the hyenas) Screaming
and crying and cackling all at once, and Timmy couldn't take it. The
Timmy won't play `cause he's afraid. Afraid of a tiny,
harmless, soulless box! (would the box refer to itself as "soulles"?)
-were filling his ears, eating away his nerves, rotting his mind,
Play Timmy! Come on, play you sorry sack of flesh and bone,
I want your soul!
-so that, despairingly, Timmy threw his hands up in anguish and
"No! No no no no no no!"
"My dear! Are you all right?"
Curious hands, withered and wrinkled to the touch, began to
pull at the fingers that covered his ears. The laughter abruptly
ceased, replaced by the buzzing of bees in the spring garden and the
humming of an idle car, close . in the driveway.
"Are you not feeling well today, Timmy?"
Timmy raised first his eyes, and then his head. "Sure I am,"
he croaked sheepishly, though his throat was afire, and his heart had
frozen while a bitch of a migraine was hammering away inside his
head. He added an equally pathetic smile as a show of
assurance. "Thanks for asking, Mrs. Crawley."
Mrs. Crawley wagged a dried pinky in his face.(pinky? I don't think
I've seen anyone wag any other than the index finger when chiding someone
....pinky means little finger, to me) "You should
not be out here in this heat. What does your mother think with your
The old woman fumbled an embarrassed gesture with her knotted
appendages. It appeared as if she were trying not to indicate the
international symbol for `loony," but was lacking a more sensitive
sign. "Well, with your seeing things," she finally managed
awkwardly. "Doesn't the heat provoke the . delusions?"
"No, Mrs. Crawley, I don't suffer hallucinations anymore.
Not for a year now. Not since I started taking my medication." The
woman nodded mindlessly, obviously not convinced by his explanation.
He smiled apologetically. "I have to go, Mrs. Crawley. Tell your
husband I said to drive carefully."
"Dear, yes!" exclaimed Mrs. Crawley as Timmy turned to enter
his house. "Just yesterday he crushed some young man's toy; (and he) says
poor son was so angry he put on the most vile, screaming tantrum my
Walter had ever witnessed right there in your drive. The boy stormed
away afterwards, although Walter can't (couldn't) be sure where to if not
your house, Timmy. Oh, how terrible. But Walter-you know how kind
and regretful my husband is-he says he's made it up to the boy.
Don't know how, but if Walter says he solved it, then by gosh that's
what he's done. Still, I wonder who he was? Poor boy."
Timmy was no longer hearing her. He was escaping. Rushing
across the lawn to reach his front door before she-
"Timmy, dear? This package . it has your name on it."
He froze. His frail frame refused to continue up the path,
his knobby knees about ready to buckle as if his one hundred pound
weight was suddenly too much of a burden. He felt the spirit of the
beast upon him, its torrid breath peeling the skin from his neck,
cursing him. The hands reached out and clamped onto his shoulders,
two twisted vines from the cemetery yard.
"Don't forget this, dear."
Mrs. Crawley placed the box into his hands. Timmy thanked
her apprehensively, his voice subdued, his movements listless. He
carried the evil into his home, vaguely aware that the old woman
continued to watch his progress, probably with the same conviction of
helplessness and doom that he felt. Shivers coursed throughout his
body. Darkness swept through his being, his mind blackening (sounds like
his brain is being charcoled...perhaps a better word would be "darkening"),
than the box so heavy in his quivering hands. His soul, his heart-
all his senses (sense would not include sould and heart....so if you mean
soul, heart AND all his senses, you need to omit the dash and insert the
word "and") were cloaked in darkness too terrifying and completely
devoid of hope to be anything less than evil; too real to be a
Timmy placed the black box of hyenas on the kitchen counter
and dug into his pocket for his afternoon dose of medicine. He
handled the bottle of pills delicately, prying the cap off carefully
to make sure none of the pills spilled onto the floor. He ran the
cold tap for a glass of water, but he did not use it to wash the
pills down. One by one, he counted each of the purple pills as they
plopped down the drain and fell onto the blades of the garbage
disposal. It was laughing still, but the hyenas promised to go away
once the medicine was completely gone. He waited until the last pill
joined the pile, and then switched on the disposal. The machine
kicked into action, loudly crunching and then flushing the bits of
pills until there was nothing left to hear accept the gentle hum of
the whirling motor . and the incessant laughter that failed to cease.
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